Interaction between streptavidin and biotin on poly(amidoamine) (PAMAM) dendrimer-activated surfaces and on self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) was quantitatively studied by using time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (ToF-SIMS). The surface protein density was systematically varied as a function of protein concentration and independently quantified using the ellipsometry technique. Principal component analysis (PCA) and principal component regression (PCR) were used to identify a correlation between the intensities of the secondary ion peaks and the surface protein densities. From the ToF-SIMS and ellipsometry results, a good linear correlation of protein density was found. Our study shows that surface protein densities are higher on dendrimer-activated surfaces than on SAMs surfaces due to the spherical property of the dendrimer, and that these surface protein densities can be easily quantified with high sensitivity in a label-free manner by ToF-SIMS. (c) 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.